Strength in Numbers… and Letters and Characters: How to Create a Strong Password

May 16, 2019


After an unprecedented number of data breaches the past few years, one thing remains clear: People need stronger passwords. At the end of 2017, SplashData published its annual worst passwords of the year list– compiled using data from more than 5 million passwords that were accessed by hackers in 2017.

The top two most popular passwords – “123456” and “password” – retained their positions on the list for the fourth consecutive year. SplashData estimates about 10 percent of people have used at least one of the 25 worst passwords on the list, and nearly 3 percent of people have used “123456.”

Review the following tips to learn how to create strong passwords and protect your accounts.

  1. Make your passwords complex. It goes without saying, but avoid any of the 25 worst passwords. Other weak passwords include your name or your friends’ and family members’ names, words in the dictionary, your username and keyboard pattern swipes (“qwerty” was fourth most popular password in 2017). Experts suggest creating passphrases of 12 characters or more with a mix of characters, including upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
  2. Be random. Avoid using easily obtained information like your birthday, Social Security number or phone number. As a general rule, the easier a password is to remember, the easier it is to crack.
  3. Don’t use the same password for multiple sites. SecurityCoverage reports 73 percent of consumers use the same password across multiple sites, and 33 percent use the same password across everysite. Also, the average user visits 25 password-protected sites but uses only six passwords. There’s a big problem with this practice: If a hacker gets one password, he or she will be able to access multiple accounts.

It’s impossible to remember a different password for every site you log into – especially if your passwords are as complex and random as they should be. Consider using a password manager, like one of the five best password managers according to Lifehacker, to organize passwords, generate secure random passwords and automatically log into websites.

For more password information and tips, check out this infographic.